We marvel at how extremely gifted people create art that touches our lives and bestows so much beauty on our world. Although we enjoy and celebrate the talents of highly creative individuals, we must also unravel their mysteries in order to be engaged ourselves in “extraordinary ordinary creativity” and to use art making as a healing tool to enhance our daily lives. Everyone has the ability to engage in ordinary creative pursuits, yet with practice and desire we can train our brains and evolve our skills into “extraordinary ordinary creativity” with talents that bring great personal satisfaction.
What Fires Together Wires Together
Neuroscience has revealed new ideas about the creative process, and tells us that our experiences change our brains in that we literally remake our individual brains daily! We actually get to choose who we are, what we think, and what we are able to do because of the phenomenon of neuroplasticity – which means that our brains are amazingly responsive and adaptable to change. We now know this is accurate because of neuroimaging studies, using brain scans of creative individuals, show how a creative brain might differ from a typical brain. These studies have suggested there’s an increase in the volume of gray matter, increase in synapses, enlargement of the cerebellum (the part of the brain highly developed to control motor coordination), and more highly developed visual/spatial abilities in performing musicians. For example, it appeared that orchestra musicians have enhanced their visual/spatial cognitive skills through practice and performance. Over 30 studies of brain plasticity have indicated that musical practice and performance can produce noticeable changes in brain structure and function. And neuroscientists suggest that it is highly likely that this phenomenon translates to other creative endeavors as well! So we see with focused training, via the phenomenon of neuroplasticity, it’s possible to build a better brain and understand “what fires together wires together.”
The Creative Brain
The brain’s capacity for imagining is an especially valuable resource for creative productivity. And we know that highly creative individuals possess ample curiosity, an openness to experience, tolerance for chaos, and minds that roam free with associative thinking. It has been suggested that creativity involves reshaping the materials in our lives in new and unexpected ways. So let’s unravel the threads of our own creative brains, and embrace and practice with new materials so we can find a useful balance for living an artful life infused with “extraordinary ordinary creativity” bringing beauty, contentment and happiness.
Blog inspired and excerpted from the research of Dr. Nancy Andreasen as discussed in her book The Creative Brain.